Big East Tournament Second Round, USF-Cincinnati Preview

Happy Jawanza is happy. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Good Morning V5ers! We hope you guys enjoyed the largest comeback in Big East Tournament history last night, but now it's on to the second round! Tonight at 7:00PM, your South Florida Bulls face off against the Cincinnati Bearcats. The game will be on ESPN, and if you're going to be at the USF-UF baseball game, Jim Lighthall and Todd Kalas will take care of you on 1250 WHNZ.

Cincinnati is on a tear right now, going from squarely on the bubble to comfortably in the field of 68 after winning five of their last six games. Coach Mick Cronin has the Bearcats playing some of their best basketball of the season, including a 22-point beatdown of Georgetown in their regular season finale. Let's see who Cronin will throw out for their starting lineup:

G - 6'0" SOPH Cashmere Wright (9.3 PTS/2.4 REB/3.9 AST/1.4 STL)

G - 6'3" JR Dion Dixon (11.2 PTS/2.9 REB/1.8 AST/1.1 STL)

F - 6'6" SR Rashad Bishop (8.2 PTS/3.6 REB/1.8 AST/1.0 STL)

F - 6'11" SR Ibrahima Thomas (5.8 PTS/5.4 REB)

F - 6'9" JR Yancy Gates (11.3 PTS/6.9 REB/1.3 AST/1.2 BLK)

Off the bench, Cronin has a couple of options to choose from. First off the bench is 6'4" freshman Sean Kilpatrick (9.9 PTS/3.2 REB/1.4 AST) ,who has taken a Vinnie Johnson-type role to provide some instant offense. You might remember him as the guy who torched us when we played in the regular season. 6'7" senior Darnell Wilks (3.6 PTS/2.7 REB/1.1 AST) gives Cincinnati the option of going small when he plays the 4, or he can give Bishop some rest at the 3. 6'8" freshman Justin Jackson (2.5 PTS/2.6 REB) is a promising post who should get some playing time next year.

Offensively, the Bearcats run through Wright, who does a great job getting in the lane and creating his own shot. He can also pass outside to a wide-open Dixon or Kilpatrick or even Bishop -- they all can shoot it from three. If they aren't open, Gates will post up his man, and it normally spells doom for his opponent.

This might be a tough matchup after a 40-minute struggle against Villanova yesterday. Cincy plays a tough, physical style of defense that preys on mental mistakes. I wouldn't be surprised if LaVonte Dority or Mike Burwell gets a little playing time at PG to give Anthony Crater a rest after he logged 37 minutes last night. Same with Toarlyn Fitzpatrick at the 4 or 5 to spell Augustus Gilchrist a little bit.

If there is a glimmer of hope for the Bulls, it's that the Bearcats get into foul trouble quickly. Thomas, Gates, Wright, and Bishop all average more than two fouls a game, and if USF can capitalize like they did last night, it could bode well for them.

So what do we expect from the game tonight? I really don't know. This could be a team finally realizing that being aggressive on offense is a good idea, and their confidence carries them through to a quarterfinal matchup against Notre Dame. Yeah, I'm going with that: The Bulls continue their wild ride at MSG.

Three predictions for tonight:

- Less cursing at Anthony Crater.

- More cursing at Mick Cronin by Oscar Robertson (does he have tickets?)

- The Bulls win another one.

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